By Dr Rohn Kessler
In The Art of Power, Thich Nhat Hahn writes about five spiritual powers that are the foundation of happiness—faith, diligence, mindfulness, concentration and insight. Let’s focus on diligence, the notion that can train ourselves to come back to our best and highest self.
Imagine that we have seeds in our consciousness such as joy, forgiveness, peace, anger despair and hate. These seeds can be awake or asleep. If you live in a positive environment seeds like anger, fear, despair, violence and craving are sleeping and not touched. If you live in a negative environment these seeds are touched, watered and begin to grow.
“So it is wise for you to choose a good environment that will prevent these negative seeds from being touched often. You should not allow other people around you to touch these seeds, and you should not allow yourself to water them.” This is diligence.
“When you read an article full of violence or watch a violent television program you turn on the seed of violence. The first step of diligence is not to turn on these negative seeds and not to allow the environment to turn them on…Try not to expose yourself to sights and sounds that stimulate the seed of craving or the seeds of anger in you…You need diligence to practice this, and you may need a community or group of friends with similar values to help you create a good environment.”
I was thinking of this while reading The Paranoia Switch, a book about how terror rewires our brains by Harvard psychologist Martha Stout. She asks one question: What were you doing on the morning of September 11, 2001?
Dr. Stout claims we all have immediate and vivid memories of 9/11 that we will carry to our graves. “We will be able to recall small details—the weather where we were, what we had been up to but stopped doing, exactly which telephone we picked up—as if we had had tiny videotapes in our heads.”
She also claims that, based on neuropsychological research, the 9/11 attack turned on our “fear switch” by traumatizing our brains and causing overreactions to the reality of life.
The following is some of the information presented:
1) Immediately after the attack eight out of ten women and six out of ten men were depressed.
2) Three to five days after the attack, 44% of Americans reported at least one symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
3) Two months later 31% of respondents to a L.A. Times poll felt their personal sense of security was still “a great deal” shaken.”
4) One year later, 30% of Americans said they still thought about 9/11 every single day.
5) A study published in 2005 that followed the infants of 38 mothers who had been at or near the World Trade Center attack reported that at one year old the babies of mothers who had PTSD showed low cortisol levels —linked to being vulnerable to post-traumatic stress. In other words, “…maternal post-traumatic stress disorder may have transgenerational effects beginning when the child is in utero…”
What’s the point? The point is that “When you read an article full of violence or watch a violent television program you turn on the seed of violence.”
Diligence is the practice of training ourselves to come back to our best and highest self.
Dr Kessler is the CEO of Sparks of Genius in Boca Raton Florida.